It's not at all clear what Call of Duty 2023 will be

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(Image credit: Activision)
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Call of Duty fans of the world got a small shock to the system earlier this year when Bloomberg reported (opens in new tab) that, despite a 17-year streak of releasing new CoD games, Activision would be skipping 2023. In place of a traditional release, the report claimed at the time, efforts would be solely focused on continued updates for this year's game, Modern Warfare 2 (opens in new tab), and the upcoming free-to-play Warzone 2.0.

Activision didn't outright deny the report earlier this year, but said today in its Q3 financial report that there will, in fact, be a new "premium" Call of Duty next year. What that exactly means, however, remains less than clear.

The announcement came from a section celebrating Modern Warfare 2's big launch and looking forward to 2023. "Activision is looking forward to building on its current momentum in 2023, with plans for next year including the most robust Call of Duty live operations to date, the next full premium release in the blockbuster annual series, and even more engaging free-to-play experiences across platforms," the report (opens in new tab) reads.

Author of the original report, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, responded to the announcement on Twitter, saying that the "full premium release" Activision is touting won't be the standard Call of Duty game players are used to, but a paid expansion to Modern Warfare 2 developed by Sledgehammer Games. "It's supposed to have lots of content! Maybe that's why they call it a 'full' release. But it's more MWII," Schreier said.

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Activision's sparse details and Schreier's claims complicate things. Schreier says CoD 2023 is "more MW2" and uses the word "expansion" to describe it, but he also says it has "lots of content" and probably includes new singleplayer and multiplayer features. Considering Activision is apparently confident in framing this as the next big CoD game, maybe this Sledgehammer project is more like a Modern Warfare 2 sequel than an add-on.

The confusion could perhaps be attributed to the vague and varying definitions of what a "full premium" Call of Duty is. Given the series' history of rotating themes and settings, it'd be unusual to get a follow-up to Modern Warfare 2 (led by a different studio) so quickly. If that is indeed the plan, it's understandable how this sounds like a less legitimate "full" CoD game than, for example, Treyarch's next game.

Today's financial report is Activision's first official mention of a standalone 2023 CoD game—when the Bloomberg report claiming Treyarch's next CoD game had been delayed a year first hit in February, the publisher's response wasn't exactly contradictory. 

"We have an exciting slate of premium and free-to-play Call of Duty experiences for this year, next year and beyond," Activision said at the time. "Reports of anything otherwise are incorrect. We look forward to sharing more details when the time is right."

Now that Modern Warfare 2 is out, the time is apparently right. We're likely months away from the day Activision is ready to formally announce whatever CoD 2023 actually is (and which team is making it), so until then, it's all rumors and reports. We've reached out to Activision for clarification on the nature of next year's CoD and will update the story if it arrives.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.